It’s unusual these days for Republicans and Democrats to agree on policy issues. Kentucky’s Senate Bill 100, as amended in the House, is that rare piece of legislation. It deserves to pass in its House-amended form and be signed into law.
The amended legislation on net metering strikes a fair compromise. I commend Rep. Jim DuPlessis for his willingness to hear the concerns of the solar industry and consumers in Kentucky. Although it is not a victory for the solar industry, per se, the amended bill is much closer to compromise than the original version of SB 100. Utilities didn’t get everything they wanted, but neither did the solar industry. That’s why it’s called compromise.
As amended, SB 100 provides a reasonable solution that preserves some choice and competition.
Solar power and energy choice are inherently conservative, and as a conservative, I support the free market driven by innovation. Our founding fathers also believed in this principle of self-determination – that we, as citizens, could chart our own course and improve our lot in life. That’s true in many facets of daily life, but not usually the case when it comes to our power bills.
Luckily, Americans do have an option to reduce their power bills. It’s called solar energy. Several years ago, while I served as Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Gov. Nikki Haley broke down barriers to energy choice by signing a net metering law. South Carolina has quickly become the second highest-ranking state in the country for solar job growth.
Net metering is a policy that provides consumers who have solar with fair credit for the power they generate and send to the grid and their neighbors. Essentially, it allows homeowners to spin their electricity meters backward, for a change. This policy has created thousands of new jobs in South Carolina and has proven successful in saving customers money each month. With solar valued fairly, Kentucky’s net metering law can continue to work for the Bluegrass State.
Occasionally, net metering is mischaracterized as a subsidy. Conservatives don’t like subsidies, but net metering is no subsidy. After the House Amendment was included in SB 100, the Kentucky Public Service Commission will have the opportunity to value solar, considering all costs and most benefits. Our ability to choose where our power comes from and get fair credit for the energy that we produce is an important piece of America's energy future.
Solar is growing the economy, creating jobs and offering a much-needed energy choice to consumers. Further, solar fosters private investment into the grid – with solar companies and homeowners working together to build energy sources. As a conservative, I prefer this private approach rather than power plants built by monopoly utilities and costs that are socialized across all ratepayers.
Removing barriers to solar businesses – not adding to them – and applying common sense, conservative economic principles have helped further energy independence with solar energy in my home state of South Carolina. The same can be true in Kentucky.
Moore, former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, is the chairman for the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition. The coalition is dedicated to promoting the removal of barriers to solar businesses and applying free market principles to help further energy independence with solar energy in South Carolina.